Hope’s Reality

Higher education is about hope. Parents save to send their children to college in the hope they will have better futures. States support their institutions of higher learning in the hope of creating engaged citizens and stronger economies. Donors give money to universities in the hope of transforming lives. Scholars do research and teach students in the hope of inventing a better world.

Friday night I had the opportunity to witness hope in action when I helped judge the finals in the college’s Cornerstone Competition. Cornerstone is a social entrepreneurship course that includes a service learning project. Each year about 2500 students complete 400 projects that represent about $1 million in economic impact. This year, Cornerstone was recognized by the Florida Campus Compact, winning the campus-community partnership award for its work with Boys Town. Cornerstone is a great example of Dr. Hitt’s vision for UCF to be America’s leading partnership university. It has also inspired UCF’s David Brim to create a unique social entrepreneurship app called Bright Impact. But most of all, Cornerstone is at the heart of the College’s enculturation process, instilling entrepreneurial thinking, creativity, teamwork, communication skills, ethics and an appreciation for diversity in our students.

The competition celebrates the Cornerstone projects, and thanks to the generous support of UCF alums Jim and Debbie Balaschak, who also helped judge the finals, provides a cash prize to the group that best exemplifies the values of Cornerstone. About twenty teams participated in Friday’s competition, with four groups presenting in the last round.

This year’s winning team was Hope’s Reality. The group raised enough money to give one very sick little boy the opportunity to turn his hope of a Disney cruise into reality. The team didn’t win because they raised the most money (they didn’t). They didn’t have the most careful presentation of how their project linked to course learning objectives. Nor did they overcome the greatest obstacles. They won because they were best able to leverage the emotional resources created by telling their story of pursuing one little boy’s dream and making it reality. It moved the judges and showed they really cared about their project. Harnessing the power of hope to achieve goals is what social entrepreneurs do. Nicely done.

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6 thoughts on “Hope’s Reality

  1. Hello my name is Sarah i am the mother of Yael ( the little boy of Hopes Reality) . I just wanted to give my congratulations to this wonderful group that they are not just a group for us they are part of our family , Hopes Reality took this project and they never let us feel like it was a project. Because the importance and the attention that they put to out situation with Yael was and is so precious because they show us like they care , all the smiles that they put on Yael’s face are super priceless to me and our family. We will never forget this experience that we had with them , Although Yael’s condition is still there but the smiles and happiness that they brought will never be forget !!!! We will always have you guys in our heart you guys have impact our lives in a way words can describe , we wish you guys the BEST on your journey . And once again we are so happy and honor to be the family that you guys chose to impact and bring happiness ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations you guys deserve it !!!! Keep doing what you all doing because many people out there needs you ๐Ÿ™‚ !!!
    With Lots of Love,
    Yael (your little nugget) and our family ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I reside in Toronto, Canada and I happen to know the members of the Hope’s Reality Team. I personally know the twin on the team (Ted and Will) and I must say that the passion that all the members brought to making this a success took enormous responsibility on their part. Even though they won the competition at UCF, it was their love for making a positive difference in a kid life which they accomplish. I salute UCF for recognising that it was not about raising the most money, but connecting with the community at an emotional level. Good Luck in all future endeavours.

  3. Hi Dean Jarley,
    It is truly remarkable how powerful of a force students can be on the community. I strongly believe that students learn best by applying what they have learned in class in a real world setting. On the other side there are clearly charitable organizations that are under resourced…Service learning seems like a clear win / win. Students can also gain stronger roots in their local community, which increases retention and also connects them to other opportunities, mentors and potential jobs available in the community.

    Thanks for mentioning me and Bright Impact. We are very excited about the software and are releasing some major upgrades this semester! Bright Impact has been very well received so far to those we have shared it with. I will definitely keep you posted as we progress.

    I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season and New Years! I wish you all the best in 2013 and am excited to continue to see UCF’s College of Business grow.

    All the best,

    D Brim

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